There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Friday, December 19, 2008

A California VMT Quiz

Question: Before reading the document embedded at the end of this post, put these 10 California metropolititan areas in order based on per capita vehicle miles traveled -- from most VMT per capita to least.

  1. Bakersfield
  2. Fresno
  3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana
  4. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
  5. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA
  6. Sacramento-Arden Arcade-Roseville
  7. San Diego-Carsband-San Marcos
  8. San Franscisco-Oakland-Fremont
  9. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara
  10. Stockton
Bonus Question: In light of my ranting about Phoenix as a model for Sacramento here, who has a higher per capita VMT -- Sacramento or Phoenix?

This quiz is prompted by the Brookings Institution report released this week entitlted "The Road...Less Traveled: An Analysis of Vehicle Miles Traveled Trends in the U.S." Brookings found "driving, as measured by national vehicle miles traveled, began to plateau as far back as 2004 and dropped in 2007 for the first time since 1980." The decline has played havoc with the national transportation funding.
"The recent drop in total VMT leaves federal and state governments shortchanged for current projects and potentially bankrupt for future ones. This situation will only get worse as these trends continue and as the demand for transportation dollars continues to rise. It also suggests that projections of revenue increases are off base, regardless of whether the primary revenue stream is the gas tax or other mileage-based systems."
But there is a silver lining to this decline in VMT:
"The entire transportation sector accounted for 33 percent of all U.S. CO2 emissions in 2006—the single largest contributor to total emissions of all end-use sectors.12 The lion’s share of the sector’s GHG emissions—82 percent—comes from passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, freight and light trucks. And though emissions from other pollutants—such as volatile organic compounds (VOC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx)—have fallen over time as a result of engine and fuel policies, emissions of CO2 continue to rise almost lock-step with VMT.14 Any change in VMT of such vehicles, therefore, corresponds almost directly with changes in GHG emissions."
The twin issues -- paying for transportation costs from a tax generated by vehicle miles traveled and the need to reduce those miles traveled in order to slow global warming -- present a conundrum.

What can be done to secure funding for expanding -- not just continuing, but expanding -- our transit options? If California Gov. Arnold "The Transitator" Schwarzenegger and the no-tax-hike-now-or-ever Republicans in the Legislature hold sway, California transit operators and Sacramento Regional Transit in particular are in for unbearable pain.

Brookings VMT Cities Ranking

Answer to quiz: 10,1,5,7,9,6,8,3,4,2
Bonus: Sacramento

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

metro areas can be difficult. You might be surprised to see just how much area outside the city the area is named after is included.